How MLS clubs rank in recent draft-day performance

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With the NFL draft today, let’s not miss the opportunity to talk draft in soccer.

Clearly, this is a different animal. In professional football the college draft represents a far larger piece of the overall personnel acquisition equation. Soccer’s international transfer market, plus the emerging domestic academy system, significantly diminishes Major League Soccer’s SuperDraft as a means of collecting talent.

Still, the SuperDraft can certainly be an important part of the puzzle.  Omar Gonzalez (pictures), Tim Ream, Chris Pontius, Brek Shea, Joao Plata, Geoff Cameron, Roger Espinoza, Graham Zusi, Teal Bunbury, Zach Loyd are among the quality players plucked in drafts over the last five seasons.

So, here are my rankings of how each club has performed on draft day over the last five years, and how the clubs have performed on draft day over the last three years.

Team ranks over last five years (includes only clubs that drafted each year from 2008 forward):

  • T-1. D.C. United
  • T-1. FC Dallas
  • 3. Sporting Kansas City
  • T-4. L.A. Galaxy
  • T-4. New England
  • T-4. Toronto FC
  • 7. San Jose
  • T-8. Chicago
  • T-8. Chivas USA
  • 10. Houston
  • 11. Real Salt Lake
  • 12. Colorado

Team ranks last three years (includes only clubs that drafted each year from 2010 forward):

  • 1. Philadelphia
  • T-2. New England
  • T-2. New York
  • T-4. Chivas USA
  • T-4. Columbus
  • T-6. D.C. United
  • T-6. FC Dallas
  • 8. Toronto FC
  • T-9. Chicago
  • T-9. L.A. Galaxy
  • T-9. San Jose
  • T-9. Seattle
  • 13. Sporting Kansas City
  • T-14. Colorado
  • T-14. Real Salt Lake
  • 16. Houston

How I arrived at the rankings was fairly simple and a little less subjective than you might think:

Each draftee who stuck around was assigned a point value of (1). Each draftee who became a starter for any stretch of time got a (2). Each draftee that became a solid starter and valuable member of a team (in many cases, by the way, it was a different team) was assigned a (3). Star men like Ream or Gonzalez got a (4).

In each case, the point value was assigned to the team that drafted them.

You’ll notice that drafting high in the order has been a reliable predictor of success over the last few years. So, teams that haven’t done well in the standings lately tended to clump near the top.

I’ll have a few more notes from recent drafts on another post, in about an hour.

Report: Newcastle activates $12m release clause of ex-Arsenal youth

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Reports out of Turkey say Newcastle United have finally struck the transfer market for a new No. 10.

[ MORE: West Ham adds Diop ]

Aksam reports that Rafa Benitez got the Magpies hierarchy to activate a near $12 million release clause for Besiktas midfielder Oguzhan Ozyakup.

The 25-year-old was part of Arsenal’s youth set-up until 2012, making two League Cup appearances in 2011-12 before moving to Besiktas.

Dutch-born Ozyakup is 35-times capped with a goal for Turkey, twice captaining the Crescent-Stars.

Ozyakup lost playing time to Talisca this season, and registered just four assists in 24 appearances. In 219 appearances for Besiktas, he’s posted 27 goals with 50 assists.

Like the move for Newcastle?

Lukaku pens inspiring post on hard-scrabble upbringing

AP Photo/Matthias Schrader
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Manchester United and Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku has an inspiring and emotional post in The Players’ Tribune which tugs at the heart strings and explains his competitive fire.

[ MORE: West Ham adds Diop ]

Lukaku talks about how his family’s poverty caused him to become a fierce competitor in the hopes of meeting his dreams head-on and providing for his family.

The Belgian, 25, scored twice in his side’s 3-0 World Cup-opening win over Panama earlier this week, and is now far removed from his youth, but he tells his story as if it lives fresh in his mind.

From The Players’ Tribune:

There were even times when my mum had to “borrow” bread from the bakery down the street. The bakers knew me and my little brother, so they’d let her take a loaf of bread on Monday and pay them back on Friday.

Lukaku also talks about racism in football, his debut for Anderlecht, and that aforementioned competitive drive. It’s 100 percent worth the read.

West Ham signs club record center back from Toulouse

whufc.com
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West Ham has reportedly set a club record with its latest signing under new manager Manuel Pellegrini.

Issa Diop is the player, the 21-year-old Toulouse captain and center back costing the Irons around $29 million.

[ MORE: Arsenal signs Leno ]

Diop scored three goals with an assist and eight yellow cards in 31 Ligue 1 matches this season, giving the young defender 95 apps, six goals, three assists, and 23 yellows since debuting with the senior team at 18.

Capped by France at every level below the senior team, Diop’s 2.2 interceptions per game ranked sixth in Ligue 1.

Toulose finished 18th in Ligue 1, but won its promotion/relegation playoff to stay in the French top flight.

From WHUFC.com:

“I am very happy to sign for such a historic, English club, and I hope to show my best here. I am a very ambitious player and West Ham is a very ambitious club, as we’ve seen with the appointment of the new coach. I hope to help the team win lots of games and make the fans happy.”

Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show: Episode 3

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In the third episode of Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show, England pulls out a massive win while VAR finds its way into the World Cup spotlight.

[ LIVE: World Cup scores ] 

There will be plenty more to come over the next few weeks, with the show coming via the Men In Blazers.

Click play on the video above to watch the first episode in full.